Viruses and apoptosis

Annu Rev Microbiol. 1999;53:577-628. doi: 10.1146/annurev.micro.53.1.577.


Successful viral replication requires not only the efficient production and spread of progeny, but also evasion of host defense mechanisms that limit replication by killing infected cells. In addition to inducing immune and inflammatory responses, infection by most viruses triggers apoptosis or programmed cell death of the infected cell. This cell response often results as a compulsory or unavoidable by-product of the action of critical viral replicative functions. In addition, some viruses seem to use apoptosis as a mechanism of cell killing and virus spread. In both cases, successful replication relies on the ability of certain viral products to block or delay apoptosis until sufficient progeny have been produced. Such proteins target a variety of strategic points in the apoptotic pathway. In this review we summarize the great amount of recent information on viruses and apoptosis and offer insights into how this knowledge may be used for future research and novel therapies.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Apoptosis*
  • Humans
  • Viral Proteins / metabolism
  • Virus Diseases / immunology
  • Virus Diseases / virology*
  • Virus Physiological Phenomena*
  • Virus Replication
  • Viruses / pathogenicity*


  • Viral Proteins